Master’s Program in Nurse Anesthesia Frequently Asked Questions

Back to Nurse Anesthesia Program factsheet.

When is the application deadline?

Please refer to our Application Deadlines page for current information. Applications can ONLY be submitted online. To receive full consideration for admission into the School of Nursing, a completed application with all supporting documents must be received by the deadline. Admissions decisions are sent out in early February.

What are the science requirements for the program?
We require two semesters of Chemistry (one of which must be Organic Chemistry). Labs are not required by the School of Nursing. All prerequisite courses must be completed with a C or better. Applications are accepted with prerequisite coursework in progress; all prerequisites MUST be completed by the start of the program.

My science grades are marginal. Should I retake the classes?
If you feel it would strengthen your application, it may be a good idea. It would also demonstrate a commitment to your nurse anesthesia educational goals.

What type of nursing experience do I need before I consider applying to the program?
The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) requires at least one year of acute care nursing experience. The School of Nursing interprets this as at least one year of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nursing experience. This includes SICU, MICU, PICU, CVICU, CCU, Burn ICU, Trauma ICU, and Neuro ICU. We do not consider Operating Room, Post Anesthesia Care Unit, Emergency Room, Telemetry, Step-down, Neonatal ICU and Cath Lab acceptable experience.

What is the average number of years of ICU experience that students have entering the program?
Most entering students have at least 2-5 years of solid full-time ICU experience.

What criteria are used for selecting qualified students from the applicant pool?
Applications are comprehensively reviewed. Weakness in one area can be offset by strength in another area. We review applications for overall GPA, individual science grades, GRE scores, personal statements, letters of recommendation, and ICU experience that demonstrates a high degree of critical decision-making involving patient's with multi-system failure.

Do I have to take the GRE and if I do, what GRE scores are considered acceptable?
All applicants to Columbia University School of Nursing must take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). A competitive score is within the top 50th percentile.

Is there an interview process for admittance into the program?
The admissions committee will not host interviews for the Nurse Anesthesia program.

If I am denied admission into the program, should I reapply?
Admission into the nurse anesthesia program is highly competitive. If you feel your application is competitive, an additional year of ICU experience or Certification as a Critical Care Nurse (CCRN) may tip the scales in your favor for the following year.

You have so many clinical sites. Can I request a permanent site?
The Columbia University Nurse Anesthesia program has 26 clinical sites in and around New York and New Jersey, including some in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. Clinical assignments are based on the need to provide each student with a well-rounded clinical experience. Some sites are able to offer this range of experience at one facility. Most students rotate every two months to a different site. There are some sites that take students for a permanent rotation; this can be discussed after acceptance.

Can I work while I am in school?
Classes are held primarily on Mondays and Tuesdays the first year. Clinical starts in late May of the first year in the program. Coursework is intensive but many students find it possible to work several shifts per week before clinical starts. Once the clinical sequence begins, time commitments in the operating room and the classroom virtually preclude any opportunity to work outside of the program.

How much financial aid is available?
A wealth of financial aid is available through grants, loans, scholarships, and teaching assistant positions. For more information on financial aid, please visit the Columbia University School of Nursing Financial Aid website at:

Do your graduates find jobs after graduation?
Our graduate employment rate is 100%!! Currently, the demand for nurse anesthetists far exceeds the graduate nurse anesthetist supply. The AANA predicts the manpower shortage will extend well into the next decade. Jobs are available in many different practice environments, from teaching hospitals to community hospitals to ambulatory care centers and beyond.

What is the first time pass rate on the National Certification Exam (NCE) and do many students leave the nurse anesthesia program?
Our five year NCE pass rate for first time takers is 91%, with last year’s passing rate at 100%. NCE pass rate for second time takes is 99%. The five year attrition rate is 8%.

Is the program accredited and by whom?
The Columbia University Program in Nurse Anesthesia is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and the Council on Accreditation (COA) of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs.

Are there any elective anesthesia rotations in specialty areas?
The program currently has affiliations with John Hopkins Medical Center, Schneider's Children's Hospital at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, Westchester Medical Center and Danbury Hospital in Connecticut for intensive pediatric rotations. Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, Maryland and UMDNJ in Newark, New Jersey offers intensive trauma rotations.

All students are required to have a cardiothoracic and obstetrical anesthesia rotation during their clinical sequence.

What are the housing options while enrolled in the program?
The Columbia University Medical Center offers a variety of housing options for students in the School of Nursing. For more information, please visit the Office of Housing Services at:

For more information, please visit these websites:

Why is CCRN recommended?
Certification as an Adult Critical-Care Nurse (CCRN) is a measure of competency attainment and is preferred by the faculty. Those who are not yet eligible to take the CCRN exam are encouraged to review CCRN Examination content to provide a firm foundation for advanced education.

Visit the Nurse Anesthesia Website

The above information is current as of 03/2010 and is subject to change at any time.

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